Kurobuta has to be one of the most famous restaurants in London now. Its managed a reputation as one of the leading modern Japanese restaurants in the capital and in such an incredibly short space of time. The man behind it all, Scott Hallsworth has done an incredible job with it and has turned what was just a pop-up, into a permanent fixture in both London’s Marble Arch and Chelsea’s Kings Road. The man must be knackered – but the hard work has certainly paid off and as we all know, chefs aren’t really real people – they’re super humans who never stop working. Kurobuta have even been cooking up in sky with Dinner In The Sky (which I loved) and every time you mention this place to someone, they always say how much they love it.
Inside it reminds me of a burger joint, very casual, quite dark and very eclectic. Perhaps not to my sort of taste, but it’s one step closer to finally making the King’s Road cool again. We started our meal here with a pint of very odd lager, in the way it’s served. A huge glass of the stuff, topped with foam and a pile of ice. It takes a little getting used to, then becomes very addictive. Best dish of the entire meal was our first one. Baby shrimp tempura with kimchee & kimchee mayo. An absolute stunner of a dish. Crispy, golden – but still light and the prawns were cooked to such a sheer perfection you couldn’t help but want more. The kimchee mayo for dipping was excellent too. Edamame was great as well. Steamed, charred, salted and covered in a squeeze of fresh lemon then smothered in butter. These were the best edamame I’ve ever eaten and I’m really not exaggerating.
I wasn’t quite sold on the description of the nuts, grains and greens salad with a honey-soy-ginger dressing, though flavour wise it was magnificent and full of so many textures. The one thing I have noticed about the food here is that portions can be a little erratic. From small, to rather large and price doesn’t seem to be the way of spotting it. You’ll simply need to come here and get a feel of the menu. Dishes such as the tea smoked lamb, served with smokey nasu and spicy miso – were a little pricey for the quantity you get, or lack of. The plate of miso grilled baby chicken with a spicy lemon garlic sauce on the other hand was a dream and well worth ordering the two plates, because you’ll be wanting seconds.
On the flip side of the portion offerings, the best bargain and one of my favourites was the BBQ Kurobuta pork ribs with a honey, soy and ginger glaze. You get an absolutely huge pile of them and each one was moist and came with a lovely charred bark with every bite. The glaze was terribly addictive too. When you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does with the, Nasu Dengaku – beautifully cooked chunks of sticky miso grilled aubergine. Even at the sight of a chopstick these things open up to you and cut through like butter. In the mouth it’s even better, full of sweet, sour soft, crunchy and smokey. A visit to Kurobuta just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Sadly I didn’t manage my trusty old camera for my visit to Kurobuta and had to rely on the compact, so just remember – if the food looks this good now then just imagine how good it must look in real life. My least favourite dish was actually probably the sushi. No fault to Kurobuta, but I’m sushi spoilt and expected a little more depth, mess and richness. My dining companions on the other hand loved it, as well as the beef tataki with onion ponzu and garlic crisps – it was one of those dishes you knew you had to all share, but secretly none of you wanted to.
As far as King’s Road restaurants go, Kurobuta is without a doubt the best it has to offer. It’s edgy, cool, affordable, a little bit boozy and above all the food is absolutely delicious. There’s a few inconsistencies perhaps in terms of portion sizes, but in the grand scheme of things it’s only very minor. A few beers in and you’ll probably not notice anyway. Living just five minutes from Kurobuta, I really can’t believe I’ve left it so long to visit, but at least now I can say I’ve been – and I can’t wait to come back.